Two Japanese make it onto BBC’s ‘100 Influential Women of the Year’ List

JIJI, Staff Report

Two Japanese women, a 23-year-old astronomer and a 90-year-old English learner, have been included in the world’s 100 influential women of the year selected by British broadcaster BBC.

Yuki Okoda, a graduate student of physics at University of Tokyo’s School of Science, was the first to discover dense material in the form of a disk around a newborn star that is believed to be a precursor of a planetary system.

“I feel great joy but also wonder why I was chosen. I hope this will be the opportunity for many people to become interested in my research,” Okoda said Friday in a written interview.

The other Japanese on the list is Setsuko Takamizawa, who captured peoples’ attention by learning English using a smartphone despite her age with the aim of working as a volunteer interpreter in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

“I am happy,” she said on Twitter.

According to the Twitter account @Grandma_English, which highlights Takamizawa’s daily efforts to learn English, she turned 90 on Aug. 23. Her granddaughter has been sending her one English word everyday via the Line messaging app, the account said.

BBC has released the 100 woman list every year since 2013. This year’s selection was announced Monday.

The late newscaster Mao Kobayashi, who was writing about her fight against cancer in her blog, and former professional tennis player Kimiko Date, made it onto the list in 2016 and 2017, respectively.